Ahead of the Lag B'Omer celebrations on Wednesday night, Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu spoke to Arutz Sheva about the spiritual awakening of the Jewish nation in Israel - and declared the "next step" in that process is to control the Temple Mount.
The Mount, which was the site of the First and Second Temples and is the holiest site in Judaism, remains under the de facto control of the Jordanian Waqf despite having been liberated in the 1967 Six Day War. The Waqf bans Jews from praying at the site and imposes harsh limitations and discrimination at the holy site.
Rabbi Eliyahu began by talking about the massive festivities at Meron, located in the north near Tzfat, where multitudes of Jews turn out on Lag B'Omer to commemorate the day of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's (Rashbi) passing at his grave.
He noted the turnout has in recent years jumped from 30,000 or so up to around 600,000 Jews who now visit Meron on Lag B'Omer, and all that increase comes despite the lack of a formal campaign to try and raise the numbers.
"The nation of Israel is waking up inside. The nation of Israel wants holiness. The nation of Israel wants the real deal, not the Reform," he said in explaining the phenomenon - and criticizing Reform Judaism that rejects the divine nature of the Torah.
He noted on the paltry turnout at a section designated for Women of the Wall, a Reform group seeking to challenge Jewish tradition at the Western Wall (Kotel), and said that in contrast to the poor turnout there hundreds of thousands of Jews come to visit the Kotel Plaza.
"They come because they want God, and it all brings us to an understanding that we're elevating and the next step is the Temple Mount, and nothing less," he emphasized.
"We've been waiting for (the Mount) thousands of years, and none of us is giving up on it. No one is intending to go half-way, it doesn't work. We want the real deal, and just like we received the land of Israel and the nation of Israel went up to the land despite all the skeptics, the nation of Israel will go up to the mountain of God's abode, soon and in our days."
Rabbi Eliyahu spoke about the process of repentance and spiritual awakening seen in Israel among "the religious public, the traditional public, and also the public that is called 'secular,'" noting that all are strengthening their faith and aspiring for unity.
"This is happening under the surface and the media doesn't see the incredible process that the nation is undergoing, it sees black marks here and there, but we on Lag B'Omer see the truth and that is that the nation of Israel is revealed to be a nation of believers, the children of believers."